Utah State University Eastern’s basketball team played its first scrimmage of the season on home turf in 2021 with new faces for the team.
Two players returned from last year, local standouts Kinlee and Kacelyn Toomer who won back-to-back state championships at Emery High School. With such a young team, having time together playing on the court is key to the success of the program.
Head Coach Chelsey Warburtn said, “The fight and talent is there with this team which was good to see. This was a wonderful opportunity for the girls to get to play against great players and learn more about each other as a group,”
It is early in the year for the team, but there were many positive takeaways. The team did an excellent job from the line, several players did well cleaning up defensive rebounds and the depth of the bench provided multiple options.
“As coaches, we were excited with what we watched. We had several solid possessions both offensively and defensively. Going forward we will build off the positives and correct our errors as a team. Great things to come for this squad,” added Warburton
Kacelyn Toomer impressed again at Eastern’s game against the Arizona Western Matadors. She scored on a driving layup with 9.2 seconds remaining in regulation and lifted the USU Eastern Eagles past the Matadors in a nail biting 71-70 win during the season opener at the Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center in Price on Jan. 21.
Locked in a back-and-forth battle throughout, the lead switched sides multiple times in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Arizona Western had an opportunity to win at the buzzer, but Teresa Da Silva’s shot from the right wing fell short as time expired, according to a USU Eastern athletic press release.
“My favorite thing tonight was that we kept battling and never gave up,” Warburton said. “We just have a young team and you can tell that by the turnovers. They got better as we went on, but still have to work on some things.”
After shooting 25% from the field and committing nine turnovers in the opening quarter, the Eagles responded by shooting 50.8% and committing 10 turnovers the rest of the game. USU Eastern also finished plus-10 in the rebounding category.
Kacelyn Toomer led all Eastern scorers with 22 points to go along with five rebounds. Connecting on 8-of-13 shots from the field, she finished an efficient 3-of-4 from the three-point line.
“She is going to be hard to stop because she can be a three-point threat, but she can also get to the basket,” said Warburton. “She is a strong guard and had a terrific read at the end taking the ball hard to the hoop.”
Freshman Kaija Glasker scored 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting in her first game. Glasker also pulled down nine rebounds, three of which came on the offensive glass.
Warburton showcased the depth of this team. Running 11 players deep on the rotation, Eastern’s bench outscored Arizona Western 36-17.
Ahna Hullinger scored all six of her points on two shots in the first half. Brooklyn Perkins also ended a perfect 2-2, giving the Eagles five more points off of the bench.
Arizona Western’s Faith Silva ended with a game-high 23 points, including five makes from deep. Da Silva reached double-figures as she finished with 14 points and seven rebounds for the Matadors.
The Eagles got a second win on the road Jan. 23, against the Arizona Western Matadors. It was a close game for the first half wwith the Eagles up four at halftime, however, by the end of the third, they built the lead to end the game 83-60.
Two players posted a double-double. Freshman Glasker scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds while freshman Brooklyn Palmer ended with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Eastern had four players score in double figures. Kacelyn Toomer was an offensive threat for the second game in a row scoring 17, while freshman Ella Bradley went 7-8 from the line and ended with 11 points.